Well, the good news first: the Jackets finished a favorable schedule stretch about as well as I could have hoped. When I wrote this piece, the Jackets were 19-20-4 and had a stretch of 12 games coming up, nine of which were at home:
I'm not here to tell you that this is when the Jackets WILL make a push to get into better position before the Olympic break. I'm here to tell you that, most likely, we'll know a LOT more about whether they can be a playoff team over these next four weeks.
If I'd said, "Hey, they'll win their home games and lose their road games," you'd have probably signed up for that at the time, no? Well, that's basically what they did in terms of raw record. The Jackets have won 10 of 13, and 11 of 15, and now sit squarely in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. I'd say we know a little bit more about this team.
But, the work is not done, as there are three games to go before the Olympic break. And, those three games have the potential to undo a lot of the work that's been done. All three are going to be very, very tough: all on the road, all against top Western Conference competition. Tonight, they face the league's best squad in the Ducks.
It's been amazing; from November 20 through January 15th, the Ducks ran off 21 wins and just TWO regulation losses in the span of 26 games. It was a ridiculous run by itself. Add it to the fact that they were already leading their division and in second place in their conference with a 15-6-2 record, and it gives you a real sense of how good this Ducks team is and can be.
Columbus catches them at a time in which they've slowed their roll just a bit, having gone 4-4-0 in their last eight games, including a shutout loss to Dallas at home on Saturday--it was just the third regulation loss at home for them on the season.
The Jackets need to push as hard as they can push tonight. They have a couple of days off after this one, so it needs to be all-out for the entire game. I don't know if they let up at times against Washington and Florida, or what. What I do know is that if they allow Anaheim to control the zone like Florida did at times on Saturday, it will be a painful, painful game.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(28-23-4, 60 Points; 3rd division, 7th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Nathan Horton|
|Nick Foligno||Artem Anisimov||R.J. Umberger|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
(40-12-5, 85 Points; 1st division, 1st conference)
|Dustin Penner||Ryan Getzlaf||Corey Perry|
|Patrick Maroon||Mathieu Perreault||Teemu Selanne|
|Jakob Silfverberg||Saku Koivu||Andrew Cogliano|
|Tim Jackman||Daniel Winnik||Matt Beleskey|
|Francois Beauchemin||Hampus Lindholm|
|Ben Lovejoy||Cam Fowler|
|Bryan Allen||Luca Sbisa|
10/27/13 - Anaheim 4 at Columbus 3
02/03/14 - Columbus at Anaheim
Head to Head Stats
Anaheim Columbus 3.28 (3) GPG 2.89 (7) 2.37 (6) GAPG 2.78 (17) 18.6% (14) PP% 18.4% (15) 82.7% (12) PK% 81.0% (16) Corey Perry, 29 G leader Ryan Johansen, 22 Ryan Getzlaf, 37 A leader James Wisniewski, 28 Ryan Getzlaf, 63 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 42 Patrick Maroon, 62 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 82 22-3-2 Home/Road 12-12-2 2/1 vs. Dallas, L 2-0 Last Game 2/1 vs. Florida, W 4-1 6-4-0 Last 10 7-3-0